WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 25, 2023
TOPIC: FORGET THE PAST AND PURSUE THE GOAL BEFORE YOU
BY T. O. BANSO
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13 New King James Version).
One of the enemies of godly success is complacency. Someone could have a sense of arrival and, therefore, relax from pursuing higher goals. He could celebrate his achievements so much that he loses the drive to go forward.
There is also another enemy: past failure discouraging some people from making new efforts toward success. Because they tried before and failed, they are demotivated from trying again. They fail to appreciate that failing one time or multiple times in a venture doesn’t mean that they cannot succeed in that same venture or others. We must put success and failure in proper perspective whichever we experience at any time. Success must not stop us from going forward and neither should we allow failure to frustrate us.
The Apostle Paul was running the Christian race. He was very clear about the goal he was pursuing and didn’t allow whatever he had achieved or the progress he had made to take his eyes off the goal. He was well-focused. The exploits he had made in the ministry didn’t go to his head. This should be the attitude of every child of God either in the Christian race or in the pursuit of his life assignment.
Paul said in Philippians 3:7-11: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (New King James Version).
Paul acknowledged that he had not yet obtained the prize. The prize is usually received at the end of the race. Therefore, despite the progress he had made, he was putting more effort into the race. He was pushing forward. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12 New King James Version).
No matter where you are in the Christian race or the pursuit of your God-given vision, don’t lose focus. Don’t be discouraged by challenges or be distracted by your success. Paul continued in verse 13: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13 New King James Version).
Learn to forget the past – negative or positive. Put the past behind you. Pursue the goal before you. Don’t live in the past. Ensure that your best is always yet to come. And with faith in God and doing what is expected of you, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. Press forward as Paul did. He said, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (verse 14 New King James Version).
In the Christian race, press forward. In the pursuit of your life assignment or vision, press forward. Don’t surrender to contrary forces or wind; press forward. See how another Bible translation renders Philippians 3:12-14: “I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven” (Easy-to-Read Version).
Take note of the phrase “I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be.” You are not yet exactly what God wants you to be. You are definitely not yet where He wants you to be. You haven’t yet reached the goal He intended for you although you may have made some impressive progress or be facing daunting challenges. Whatever the case, forget the past and press forward. Keep your eyes on the goal. Keep running toward the finishing line and you will obtain the prize in Jesus’ name.
Don’t be discouraged or distracted from the race set before you. Fix your eyes firmly on the prize at the end of the race. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 New King James Version). Don’t look back either. Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). You can’t win a race by looking back. Run in such a way to win.
The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26 New King James Version).
Press on to reach the end of the race so that you can receive the prize or achieve your goal. As you read earlier, Paul said he had not yet achieved the goal of becoming exactly what God wanted him to be. But in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (New King James Version).
Be focused as Paul was and run the Christian race such that you would be able to say that you had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith, and you will receive your crown too. Also, be as disciplined as Paul. He said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he disciplined his body and brought it into subjection, lest, when he had preached to others, he should become disqualified.
Also, he said in Acts 24:16, “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men” (The Amplified Bible Classic Edition). Discipline yourself, too. Be disciplined in the Christian race and the pursuit of your life goal.
In addition, run with endurance. The writer of the Book of Hebrews says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 New King James Version).
Athletes always endure during practice and competitions because of the prize. Endure as you run the race set before you. Nobody says it will be easy but it is possible. Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (New King James Version). He also said in verse 12, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (New King James Version).
You need endurance in the Christian race and the pursuit of your destiny. Cultivate it. Hebrews 10:36 says, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (New King James Version).
Forget the past and run, with endurance, the race that is set before you. Endure in the pursuit of your goal. Don’t be discouraged or distracted. You will not falter; you will not fail in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for the race You have set before me; thank You also for the vision You have given me. Holy Spirit, help me to be well-focused. Deliver me from discouragement and distractions. Help me to run to win the prize or achieve my goal. Father, as I wait on You, renew my strength; help me to mount up with wings like eagles, run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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